According to the 2019 Developer Satisfaction Survey, published annually by the IGDA, 28% of respondents identified as having a disability. The most frequently selected category of disability was psychiatric or mental illness (11%). General prevalence rates indicate that upwards of approximately 1 in 2 individuals in the US will meet the criteria of a clinical mental illness in their lifetimes, with roughly 1 in 5 diagnosed in a given year. Yet significant stigma remains regarding mental health diagnoses. Beyond that, we know that there are unique stressors experienced by game makers, including job instability, crunch, boom and bust development cycles, harassment and disruptive interactions with players and fans, and issues of representation in games. Take This is once again partnering with Mark Chandler and TIGS to present a world-class lineup of panelists – experts, industry veterans, clinicians, and rising stars – to tackle the opportunities and challenges of mental health in games.
In the two-day conference slated for October 7-8, we’ll draw some of the links between game industry culture and its impact on mental health, spurred on by conversations with some of the giants of the industry in its younger days, including Chris Metzen, Mike Wilson, Brenda Romero, and Leo Zullo. Without an understanding of how the myths that govern games came to be, we’re not properly equipped to reframe them. Without vulnerability from some of our leaders, we don’t have good models for healing and resilience. Tricia Gray will be leading a groundbreaking panel discussion on depression along these lines.
With a newer perspective, Take This’ Dr. Rachel Kowert will speak with Platinum Paragon about her just-released study of crunch and other forms of abuse in the industry and other key topics of research into mental health and games. We’ll also bring some leading independent game developers (David Edery, Rami Ismail, and Lazzie Brown) together with IGDA executive director Renee Gittins to discuss the unique challenges of game development in a small shop – from success to failure.
The conference will also touch on hot-button issues, including the mental health impacts of a lack of diverse representation in games, with a star-studded crew including Tanya DePass, Chandana Ekanayake and Mitu Khandaker. A session on ethical immersion with Celia Hodent and Michelle Colder Carras will cover the obligations designers have to consider the impacts on players of a range of game mechanics and approaches. An illustrious group of game designers including Brenda Romero, Hector Fuster, and Ken Hall will also talk about how to effectively and engagingly incorporate empathy into game design.
We’ll also address some of the most challenging issues related to mental health and games – accommodations for those working in games and experiencing mental health challenges and suicide among people who make games.
Finally, the conference includes a conversation with some leading developers of therapeutic games and apps, a fun conversation about mental health in tabletop games, and the lessons video game developers can take from that space, a panel discussing mental health in Esports, and an intimate conversation about mental health and community management.
We hope you’ll join us on October 7-8 for TIGS. See you there!